Researchers have confirmed for the first time that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica might cross tipping factors, resulting in a fast and irreversible retreat which might have vital penalties for world sea degree
Researchers have confirmed for the first time that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica might cross tipping factors, resulting in a fast and irreversible retreat which might have vital penalties for world sea degree.
Pine Island Glacier is a area of fast-flowing ice draining an space of West Antarctica roughly two thirds the dimensions of the UK. The glacier is a specific trigger for concern as it’s dropping extra ice than another glacier in Antarctica.
Currently, Pine Island Glacier along with its neighbouring Thwaites glacier are accountable for about 10% of the continuing enhance in world sea degree.
Scientists have argued for some time that this area of Antarctica might attain a tipping point and endure an irreversible retreat from which it couldn’t get well. Such a retreat, as soon as began, might result in the collapse of your complete West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which comprises sufficient ice to lift world sea degree by over three metres.
While the overall risk of such a tipping point inside ice sheets has been raised earlier than, displaying that Pine Island Glacier has the potential to enter unstable retreat is a really completely different query.
Now, researchers from Northumbria University have proven, for the first time, that that is certainly the case.
Their findings are printed in main journal, The Cryosphere.
Using a state-of-the-art ice circulation mannequin developed by Northumbria’s glaciology analysis group, the workforce have developed strategies that enable tipping factors inside ice sheets to be recognized.
For Pine Island Glacier, their examine reveals that the glacier has a minimum of three distinct tipping factors. The third and last occasion, triggered by ocean temperatures rising by 1.2C, results in an irreversible retreat of your complete glacier.
The researchers say that long-term warming and shoaling developments in Circumpolar Deep Water, together with altering wind patterns within the Amundsen Sea, might expose Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf to hotter waters for longer intervals of time, making temperature adjustments of this magnitude more and more probably.
The lead creator of the examine, Dr Sebastian Rosier, is a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow in Northumbria’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. He specialises within the modelling processes controlling ice circulation in Antarctica with the purpose of understanding how the continent will contribute to future sea degree rise.
Dr Rosier is a member of the University’s glaciology analysis group, led by Professor Hilmar Gudmundsson, which is at the moment engaged on a serious £4million examine to analyze if local weather change will drive the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the direction of a tipping point.
Dr Rosier defined: “The potential for this area to cross a tipping point has been raised up to now, however our examine is the first to verify that Pine Island Glacier does certainly cross these important thresholds.
“Many completely different pc simulations around the globe are trying to quantify how a altering local weather might have an effect on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet however figuring out whether or not a interval of retreat in these fashions is a tipping point is difficult.
“However, it is a crucial question and the methodology we use in this new study makes it much easier to identify potential future tipping points.”
Hilmar Gudmundsson, Professor of Glaciology and Extreme Environments labored with Dr Rosier on the examine. He added: “The risk of Pine Island Glacier getting into an unstable retreat has been raised earlier than however that is the first time that this risk is rigorously established and quantified.
“This is a serious ahead step in our understanding of the dynamics of this space and I’m thrilled that we’ve now been in a position to lastly present agency solutions to this necessary query.
“But the findings of this study also concern me. Should the glacier enter unstable irreversible retreat, the impact on sea level could be measured in metres, and as this study shows, once the retreat starts it might be impossible to halt it.”
The paper, The tipping factors and early warning indicators for Pine island Glacier, West Antarctica, is now accessible to view in The Cryosphere.
Northumbria is quick turning into the UK’s main college for analysis into Antarctic and excessive environments.
As nicely because the £4m tipping factors examine, referred to as TiPPACCs, Northumbria can also be the one UK college to play a component in two initiatives within the £20m International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration – the most important joint venture undertaken by the UK and USA in Antarctica for greater than 70 years – the place Northumbria is main the PROPHET and GHC initiatives. This specific examine was funded by each TiPPACCs and PROPHET.